By Joe Johnson
VCU will welcome Montserrat Fuentes as the new dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences on July 1.
Fuentes will take the place of former dean, Jim Coleman, who accepted the position of provost at Northern Arizona University last August.
Fuentes comes to VCU from North Carolina State University, bringing with her a wealth of experience and research. While at NC State, she taught as a statistics professor and was recognized in 2003 and again in 2008 for outstanding contributions to multiple areas of statistics-based research.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Fuentes join the VCU leadership team,” said Gail Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her diverse educational background and her prolific work within her field of research will complement the outstanding record of the faculty in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences.”
The College of Humanities and Science contains eight of the 12 largest undergraduate majors at VCU. This cross collaboration of disciplines at VCU is one of the main reasons Fuentes accepted the position.
“VCU is not only a very comprehensive university facilitating opportunities for advancement of knowledge and collaborations across disciplines,” Fuentes said. “But it’s urban location fosters community engagement and outreach.”
Fuentes said one of the most important aspects of being dean is investing in the campus community. She believes that such an investment requires a high level of commitment to the student body facilitating research, bringing in opportunities and developing a diverse campus community.
“Commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive community, facilitating the integration of research and teaching, and bringing opportunities to work across disciplines is among the most important skills she will bring to VCU as dean,” Fuentes said.
In addition to publishing several works of statistical analysis in environmental sciences and healthcare, Fuentes has traveled and taught abroad extensively. Fuentes said that international experience plays an important role within the campus community and helping students gain that experience is something every university should aim for.
“We live in a global and very rapidly changing society,” Fuentes said. “Facilitating to students and faculty opportunities for global engagement and study abroad is very important for any university to continue advancing.”
In 1993, Fuentes received her bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics, Music and Piano from the University of Valladolid in Spain. Since earning her Ph.D. in 1998 at the University of Chicago, Fuentes has taught classes in Spain, Australia and England.
“I feel extremely privileged to be welcome into this vibrant community,” Fuentes said. “I will work with the different stakeholders of the college on setting goals and priorities and a very strong and shared vision for the college, to develop a very solid liberal arts educational core at VCU that facilitates for students access to research and prepares them for life.”